Who doesn’t love the idea of being a sniper? We all like running and gunning, loading up with mags for your MP5K as you pepper opponents with mis-aimed shots in the hope that one in ten of your shots hit the mark and brings down your enemies. Being a sniper is so much more different, one shot, one kill, you miss and nine times out of ten you die. There are not a great deal of sniping titles available, but City Interactive have seen fit to take the original idea from Sniper: Ghost Warrior and enhance it via Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 and the results are intriguing.
Your character is Captain Cole Anderson, he’s your run of the mill military protagonist who likes to back-chat his superiors and question various orders thrown his way, nothing new there then. The plot involves you bringing down a biological weapons dealer with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency. The story is by no means enthralling; you’ll be subject to the usual flashbacks, green-on-green, double-agents, choices that test your morals and generally a very angry Commanding Officer who will grill you even after taking down fifty enemy insurgents, whilst protecting a lone soldier within a hotel complex. There’s simply no pleasing some people nowadays.
The campaign is very short; you’ll have it finished within a few short hours. Although some of the missions are fun, especially on hard. On easy and normal you get the luxury of a small red dot, showing you basically where your round will land on the target. Obviously if the target is running you have to cater for this, also the enemies are a little thicker and won’t be as alert as on the hardest setting. On hard your red dot is not available, meaning you have to take into consideration wind speed, wind direction, distance to target and on top of that if the target is moving you have to make sure you aim ahead of them to get a kill shot.
Taking in all that information is quite daunting, but it makes for a much more realistic experience. Most every sniper in the world would rather shoot without the dot which could so easily give away their position as your targets start seeing a little red blip jumping about their torso. You’ll miss a lot of shots at first, and as the enemies are even more alert compared to the two lower difficulties, a missed shot will likely signal the end of your time in this world. Despite this you feel far happier taking down enemies on hard than you ever would killing them on easy or normal.
The actual layout of the missions is fairly disappointing. Sniper titles should be sandbox worlds where you have to figure out your way through maps undetected, but alas your hand is held through every single mission and you may as well be a train on a set of tracks shooting from a carriage window as it really is that linear. City Interactive should have taken a leaf out of Hitman’s book, and just thrust you into a mission with a weapon, twenty rounds and said crack on hopefully we’ll see you on the other side, if not tough luck. Sadly that is not the case and with so many autosave points; even if you do die you’ll respawn a few short yards away making the missions very easy to complete.
Visually Ghost Warrior 2 is very dull, when wading through the water you’ll notice things like lilies that do not move, even when the water around them is constantly disturbed. The reeds look more like serrated blades than plants and generally the textures are flat and add little atmosphere to the game. Also the enemy AI is far too pre-planned, they all react exactly the same way, they follow the same patterns and never deviate and simply do not act like real soldiers. This is a great shame as you need atmosphere and enemies who constantly change their routes and reactions in a sniper game, but City Interactive did not bother to do this and as such the game is not as enjoyable as it could be.
The one area where Ghost Warrior 2 does shine is when it comes down to the crunch and you’re firing off multiple rounds whilst trying to stay concealed. After taking in all the information mentioned above you then look through your scope and see six possible targets, you have to systematically figure out how to dispatch the first, second, third target and so on so that you don’t alert the remaining guards and don’t give away your position. This can take a great deal of time and you really do feel like you’re actually there, like the whole mission rests on the index finger covering the trigger.
You also have to watch your heart rate, when you hold your breath, figure out what stance is best (standing, kneeling or prone) and even the famous four marksmanship principles come into play which is very refreshing to see. Better still, when you do pull of that perfect shot every once in a while the game will track the bullet as it leaves your barrel, shoots through the air and eventually lands in the target makes for a very cool cutscene.
Online there isn’t much to keep you occupied in all honesty; you get one game-type and two maps, not exactly awe-inspiring. The game mode is bog standard Team Deathmatch, kill as many enemies as you can and don’t die yourself. With just two maps this becomes laborious very quickly and although it’s quite novel being a sniper online against other snipers, the charm wears of and you’re left coming back to the campaign which you already completed four hours ago, naturally.
The idea of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is great, the execution is poor and what could have been an excellent game now warrants just a single run-through on the single-player campaign before being sold over eBay. Whilst the actual sniping experience is very realistic and on a harder difficulty very immersive, it’s let down by poor visuals, a short campaign, a bare boned multiplayer and thick enemy AI. Such a shame as this is a very enjoyable and addictive game when it’s at its best, but you won’t see these moments often enough to warrant purchasing the game.